The West Midlands Passenger Transport Committee, which represents the seven local authorities in the West Midlands, last week replaced National Cycling Strategy (NCS) goals with softer objectives. Yet, according to goals set by the National Cycle Strategy, ministers want cycle trips to increase four fold against a 1996 base by 2012. The West Midlands group plans only to double cycle trips by 2011.
Last month, transport minister John Spellar announced the appointment of a task force to ensure NCS targets were met. He said: “[The] new team of experts…will give the NCS Board powerful support to ensure progress is made towards the demanding targets in the National Cycling Strategy.”
So, the West Midlands decision is a retrograde step and needs to be nipped in the bud, reckons CTC.
"The Transport Secretary must step in because attempts by the task force to ensure targets are met will fail if ministers allow local authorities to flout their responsibilities,"said CTC director Kevin Mane.
“The West Midlands’ decision is a cop out. The seven councils should be working harder to achieve existing aims rather than creating new targets that are easier to reach.
“If the decision is allowed to stand before the NCS Board and its task force can begin its work, the credibility of the Board will be undermined. Any local or regional authority that chooses soft targets will be able to avoid scrutiny and accountability for delivering an integrated transport strategy that supports all modes.”
CTC's letter to Alistair Darling:
14th June, 2002
The R.T. Hon A Darling MP
Secretary of State for Transport
London SW1E 5DU
Dear Mr Darling,
I write to you as Chief Executive of the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation, and as an individual heavily involved in planning the re-launched National Cycling Strategy Board for England.
We are delighted by the commitment shown by Government to this initiative, and the additional funding that has been made available to the board for cycling projects and a regional task force.
More importantly however, we are pleased with commitments from Ministers that such support will be backed by action where local and regional authorities do not work to the goals of the National Cycling Strategy, and are not seeking the benefits of a transport mode which for limited cost can cut congestion and pollution while improving public health.
We are therefore sure that you will share our concern that the West Midlands conurbation authorities have jointly announced this week that they are dropping the national cycling strategy targets.
If this decision is allowed to stand before the NCS board and its task force can begin its work it is clear that the credibility for the board will be undermined from day one. Any local or regional authority that chooses to set itself soft targets will be able to avoid scrutiny and accountability for delivery of an integrated transport strategy that supports all modes.
We look forward to your strong support for the National Cycling Strategy, and confirmation that the Government will act to support its targets.